CLEVELAND -- Over his previous four starts, Red Sox righty John Lackey had walked a total of three batters.
For many years, Lackey has prided himself on his ability to pound the strike zone. But for a fleeting moment at Progressive Field, he lost the strike zone and it wound up costing him in a 3-2 loss to the Indians on Monday night.
In truth, Lackey turned in a performance that would be good enough for a win on a lot of occasions. He pitched a complete game, allowing eight hits and three runs over eight innings, walking two and striking out three.
The two walks, both in the first inning, led to a pair of runs. On a night Boston's bats were held in check by former Sox rightyJustin Masterson, Lackey's two walks proved to be decisive.
"I mean, I can't remember the last time I walked the leadoff guy to start a game," said Lackey. "Yeah, it ended up costing me in the end, for sure. It took me kind of a second to find location and it was too late tonight."
For the Red Sox, the win snapped a seven-game winning streak, leaving them a victory shy of what would have been the best streak in history in the immediate aftermath of a 10-game losing streak.
The two-out, two-run single by Cleveland's Lonnie Chisenhall that broke the scoreless tie was hardly smoked. Instead, it was just the symbol of a frustrating night for the Red Sox.
"Yeah, it was a pretty fortunate hit," said Lackey. "I put myself in the situation with two walks. That's the bottom line. I can't walk those two guys. I hadn't been walking two guys in a game, much less an inning. Yeah. That ended up getting me."
"He was just missing off the edge away to some left-handers and then Chisenhall pushes a ball on the left-field line for the two runs," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "At the time, you don't think that's going to really be really a margin that we don't come back from."
Making that bottom of the first even harder to take was that the Red Sox let an opportunity pass them by in the top of the first.
A.J. Pierzynski walked to load the bases with two outs and Jonny Gomes was up 3-0 on Masterson. But the righty fired three straight strikes, none of which Gomes offered at, to end the inning.
"He made a good pitch 3-2," said Gomes. "That would have been nice to get some runs on the board right there. Granted it was the first inning, but the momentum changed for him. You want to make him earn it, and he earned it."
Xander Bogaerts did create some excitement for the Red Sox late in the game, belting a two-run homer to right-center off reliever Bryan Shaw with one out in the eighth that made it 3-2.
"Brock put up a good at-bat and good on base," said Bogaerts. "The only thing I wanted to do was get on base regardless of whether it was a hit or a base on balls. Just try to get a hit."
Bogaerts took a pretty swing and drilled it to the opposite field.
"That's what I try to do, is try to stay inside the ball," said Bogaerts. "Try to put a good swing on the ball and get on base."
Masterson was masterful throughout, allowing three hits and no runs while striking out 10 in seven innings.
"He made a huge pitch to Gomes," said Indians manager Terry Francona. "He was scattering balls early, but he made a huge pitch when he had to, and it allowed him to kind of settle in and find himself."
The Indians worked Lackey for a pair of walks in the first, setting the table for Chisenhall to deliver his two-run single to make it 2-0.
Lackey kept the Red Sox within reach. The Indians did get him for another run in the third when Michael Bourn led off with a triple and scored on an RBI single to right by Asdrubal Cabrera.
Other than that, Lackey had a strong night.
"Lackey threw a great game," said Francona. "He threw  pitches in eight innings and we scratched a couple early and got another one and kind of hung on. He's one of the better pitchers right now. He's the Lackey of old."
Making his season debut, Stephen Drew got the start at shortstop for the Red Sox, going 0-for-2 with a walk. He handled all of his chances in the field.